Skip to content

We’ve MOVED – please update your feeds!

February 23, 2011

 We’ve moved!  Please update your links to come to ConfessionsofanITGirl.com.

Who Moved My Bookstore?

February 7, 2011

Recently, I was reading a blog post from my buddy Carmen talking about her experiences at one of her local chain bookstores.  It was a great post, but I drew a totally different conclusion than she did.  Rather than yammer on and on in the comments section of her blog, I figured with everything going on in the industry right now, it was worthy of a dedicated post on “Confessions.”

I’d sure love for you to visit her blog and read the post yourself, but if you can’t, let me summarize.  She took her kids to the local chain store to spend some of their holiday money and gift cards.  Hoping to find someone on staff to hand-sell her kids some books, she was surprised to see that they simply directed her to the section where the teen books were.  No recommendations, no suggestions,  just directions.

She portrayed what happened in the store as a customer service issue.  That is to say that the clerk didn’t (in her eyes) care enough about the sale to take her kids in section and help guide them to just the perfect book.  Not being there, I can’t say that wasn’t the case, but I also can’t say I was surprised. 

There was a time when stores, chain and independent, were guaranteed to be stocked by people who loved, loved LOVED books.  You know the store, the one in your neighborhood.  They might have had a table in front with “staff selections” that you knew were beloved by the store.  They certainly didn’t rely on a computerized inventory system to look up things – they knew just where to find each and every book.

Now, you might or might not receive that level of service.  Chain stores have pushed their computerized inventory systems on staff, so they tend to rely on those rather than gut knowledge.  Staff positions have been cut, so you may not have someone on duty full-time in the children’s section and new fiction, leaving you to fend for yourself.  Heck, you may have store employees who are really good at most things, but don’t love books.  Seen that too.  They treat them like a commodity, which can be ok with other products.  But not books – we expect more, so much more.  And so often, like Carmen and her family, we are disappointed.

If I go today to my local chain store (which I can confess is a Barnes & Noble), I will find the children’s department is most often staffed by one of two women, who are passionate about the books in there.  It certainly isn’t a requirement of the job, but they bring this love of books and reading to work with them every day and it shows.  I usually walk out of there with at least two more books per kid than I planned on buying.  No worries, they’ll be devoured by my book loving kids.

Now, if these women were to leave, there is no guarantee that their replacements would be the same with customers.  Heck, there’s no guarantee that they would get replaced. 

Sadly, with independent stores going the way of the dinosaurs, and one major chain teetering on the edge, it’s going to become more common place to see bookstore employees who are there to do a job, not to evangelize.  I remember when Borders brought in a management team who had run big box stores – they began to treat their stores the same.  You could see how the edicts from the top were affecting the long time employees who were there when it was a small store in a college town. 

I was really struck by a quote from a Mashable article about Seth Godin’s new mostly digital publishing venture with Amazon.  It’s harsh, but sadly, not totally untrue…

In an interview with Mediabistro in August 2010, Godin said that he was frustrated by the slow, roundabout publishing process he had experienced in the past. “I like the people, but I can’t abide the long wait, the filters, the big push at launch, the nudging to get people to go to a store they don’t usually visit to buy something they don’t usually buy, to get them to pay for an idea in a form that’s hard to spread,” he said. “I can reach 10 or 50 times as many people electronically,” he explained.

Wow.  I’m as excited about the potential that we are experiencing with eBooks as anyone, but…well, let’s just say leave it to Seth to tell it like it is.

Where am I buying books these days?  Lately, I buy a lot online, either Kindle, Nook, or iBookstore (Apple).  I’m reading blogs and magazines online to get recommendations for new books.  I’m also dabbling with sites like librarything and GoodReads, though certainly not as much as I could be.   I don’t talk to friends nearly enough to be sharing new book finds, but I hope to do a bit of that in 2011.  I still love to go into stores and browse, and do so whenever possible.  I mourn stores like Stacey’s in San Francisco, but rejoice that Powell’s in Portland and Elliott Bay in Seattle are still in existence.  If I find a store where someone is willing to do the ole hand-sell, I buy.  Boy do I buy. 

We used to have a Barnes & Noble quite near my house that was pretty good, but that closed several years ago.  The Borders just north of me was pretty good too, but that went out as well.  The local B&N is across the river, but it’s a big store that carries a lot, and I enjoy shopping there. 

Do I miss the days of the great local bookstore?  Yes.  Unfortunately, I think we are past the point of no return (seen any record stores lately?)  Whatever happens, I firmly believe that reading isn’t dead, and will never be.  It’s just going to take a new form, and with that, discovery and marketing must change.  Hopefully in time to get Carmen’s kids some great new books. 

Note – I carry a disclaimer on my blog in general, but I need to say it again  – these are my opinions and my opinions alone and do not reflect those of my company as a whole or any employee within.

Walt Disney World Travel Book Giveaway! Week 2

February 3, 2011

OK, it’s time to liven up our snowy landscape.  It’s time for another travel book giveaway…

If you’re attending the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in March, or just planning your own family visit to the Mouse, you’re probably looking for information on how to get the most out of your trip.  As a long-time Disney trip veteran, I can say that no guide has helped me as much as the books that comprise the “Unofficial Guide To Walt Disney World.”

I’ll get the disclosure out of the way first…yes, I work for the company that publishes these books.  But, yes, I would sing the praises of the Unofficial Guides just as loudly if I had to buy them for myself.  At full price.  With no free gift wrapping.

If you’re a knowledge junkie, someone who needs to be in the know, you know how important a good guidebook is.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been in a line at Disney and have observed other guests with the tear-out “touring plans” from the back of the book guiding their way through the parks.  The authors run the Touring Plans web site – you may be familiar with them as online gurus more so than book authors, but either way, they know their stuff.   In fact, my 11 year old has been reading the book cover to cover and keeps pointing out nuggets of information she’s getting to make the most of our trip.

Because I want everyone going to Disney to have the advantage of these amazing books, I’m giving away 8 sets of the books to readers of this blog.  This is week 2 (yes, I’ve been a little delayed due to the snow, but here we go).  All you have to do to enter is answer the “question of the week” – I’ll randomly select (using Random Number generator) 2 winners for each week.

The book set will include a copy of the “mothership” book, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and the new Color Companion to Walt Disney World.  In fact, just like a good infomercial, I’m going to double that offer and send you 2 copies of each, so you can do a giveaway on your blog too. 

This week, the question is an easier one.  I had a LOT of people email me and say they didn’t have a tip but wanted to enter anyhow.  Folks, I don’t want the set the bar high – anyone can and should enter.  So how about we make the question “What’s your favorite ride at Disney, or if you have never been, what ride are you looking forward to riding most? “- post your answer in the comments section below and make sure I have your email address in the comment form so I can contact you.  If I can’t contact you, I will have to give your books to someone else.

So, here’s a summary:

1. Visit my blog every week for another chance to win.

2. Answer the question of the week in the comments section.

3. Two randomly drawn winners every week.

GOOD LUCK!

Here’s a look at the new color companion – at first, I thought I only needed one of the books, but this one was a keeper!

Our next two winners will be drawn  at 5pm EST on February 7.
One entry per contest per person.

Back to the Bunker

February 2, 2011

You’re probably sick of reading blogs where the blogger is griping about snow, ice and freezing temperatures.

Well, you’re not going to find me breaking that trend.

Today is the 6th snow day that my kids have had this school year.  It’s my second delayed opening from work.  We’ve already had two closures due to snow.  The kids’  brains are turning to mush.  I don’t think there has been one week since December without a day off or a delay. 

Heck, MY brain is turning to mush.  The other day, I took Boy to a playdate, and ended up at the wrong house.  It took me QUITE A WHILE to realize that and get off that doorstop to find the right house. 

It’s cold too, with or without precipitation.  Leaving the house at 5 or 6 in the morning to go to the gym is decidedly unpleasant. 

I’d love to get away to somewhere warm, but I can almost guarantee that I would be scheduled to leave on a day that’s scheduled for a blizzard or some equally tragic weather event.

Supposedly the groundhog didn’t see his shadow today.  HOW COULD HE WITH ALL THE SNOW, RAIN AND ICE FALLING FROM THE SKY?

My friend usually has a sign on her door that says I LOVE WINTER.  If she has it up the next time I visit (assuming I can even get to her house and remember where she lives) I may just pull it down, stop on it, and use it for kindling.  No offense meant. 

I always hate winter.  It’s the time of the year when it’s cold and dark, and without wearing one of those light things they used to on Northern Exposure, I find myself prone to depression.  With these storms, I feel like I am living in a bunker.  Dick Cheney, I know what you went through, my man!  I just need to go out, without worrying about snow canyons and whether I can even get out of my ice slicked driveway in the first place. 

BUT…no matter how bad it is here, at least I am safe in my home.  I am struck by the fact that a good friend took a vacation to her husband’s homeland and now cannot get back home, at least for a while.  She’s been on Facebook a little, when the Internet and cell phones allowed.  Here’s her latest dispatch:

Cairo is chaos. So far, Alexandria protests are calm, but who knows how long that will last. Things change by the minute these days. Staying hopeful. Still feel safe–it’s the protesters I worry about. Can you imagine not being able to protest against your own government? So sad.

And this, from earlier:

Other than feeling cut off from friends and family in U.S., we are fine. Every experience we’ve had has made me love the Egyptians even more. So very proud of them for what they’ve done.

Makes you thankful for everything we have in this great country, snow, ice and all.  Godspeed home, my friends.

IT Boy Explains It All For You

January 23, 2011

IT Boy’s favorite TV show in the whole world, by far, is Handy Manny.  For those not among the tool-loving cognoscenti, Handy Manny follows the adventures of Sheetrock Hills beloved handyman Manny Garcia.  Manny is bilingual, and the show teaches basic Spanish while entertaining the preschool set. 

 The Boy is totally enamoured with Manny and all the tools.  He dressed as Manny for Halloween and his tools are among his most treasured toys.  He has a large set of tools and a small set, and many nights you can hear various members of our family who are trying to clean up scream, “I’ve got Big Pat, do you have little Rusty?” or “Can you look for little Stretch?”  It’s all in good fun, because the show is well done and very appropriate for a soon-to-be mechanically inclined little boy.  Meaning, I can watch it without feeling like my brain is turning to mush (Hello Blues Clues!)

He’s starting to get more involved in imaginative play these days.  Meaning, he doesn’t just bang the tools against the table.  He packs the tools into his toolbox and pretends to be Manny going out to fix something.  Recently, he came into the kitchen when the rest of the family was present and announced he was going out to his repair shop to fix some things.  We asked him who else was going, and he ended up assigning us our own Handy Manny doppelgängers.

According to the Boy, I was Kelly, the cute girl who owns the local hardware store.  She has anything and everything that Manny needs to fix things.  Since it’s a show for preschoolers, the sexual tension is dialed way back into negative numbers.  Still, there is a little bit of “will they or won’t they” but the “will” refers to going to a picnic together or dancing the rumba.  Nothing that would cause Disney standards and practices to get all rashy behind the ears. 

Soccer Girl was “Leela Singh”, the daughter of Mr. Singh, who is featured in two episodes, her birthday party and “Tools For Toys.”  She’s young and sweet and cute.  Definitely how he sees his treasured older sister to be.  I couldn’t find a picture of her solo, but “Tools for Toys” apparently was an episode and a book, and that’s the book cover.  Bet The Boy would enjoy reading that one…

Mr. IT, said the Boy, was Mr. Lopart.  The well-meaning, but hapless caucasian man with the bad comb over who owns the local candy store.  Mr. Lopart has all the confidence in the world, but none of the ability that he needs to get things done.  He refuses to accept help from others and invariably gets into some sort of trouble, which usually makes for a nice plot point when he falls on the fall and creates a chaotic situation.  Mr. Lopart has a bad comb over and lives with his mother and his faithful cat Fluffy.  It is not confirmed that he has a subscription to The Advocate, but it sure would not surprise anyone. 

Yep, I think the Boy has some most excellent insights on our family.  :-)

Winners!

January 21, 2011

Yeah!  We have winners, and it took me too long to put up this post.  Congrats to Monica and Kathy!  I’ll be in touch today for your addresses to send your guidebooks.  A new giveway is going up on Monday so stay tuned! 

Blog Giveway – Enter to Win Guides to Help Plan Your Disney Vacation

January 10, 2011

If you’re attending the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in March, or just planning your own family visit to the Mouse, you’re probably looking for information on how to get the most out of your trip.  As a long-time Disney trip veteran, I can say that no guide has helped me as much as the books that comprise the “Unofficial Guide To Walt Disney World.”

I’ll get the disclosure out of the way first…yes, I work for the company that publishes these books.  But, yes, I would sing the praises of the Unofficial Guides just as loudly if I had to buy them for myself.  At full price.  With no free gift wrapping.

If you’re a knowledge junkie, someone who needs to be in the know, you know how important a good guidebook is.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been in a line at Disney and have observed other guests with the tear-out “touring plans” from the back of the book guiding their way through the parks.  The authors run the Touring Plans web site – you may be familiar with them as online gurus more so than book authors, but either way, they know their stuff.   In fact, my 11 year old has been reading the book cover to cover and keeps pointing out nuggets of information she’s getting to make the most of our trip.

Because I want everyone going to Disney to have the advantage of these amazing books, I’m giving away 8 sets of the books to readers of this blog.  All you have to do to enter is answer the “question of the week” – I’ll randomly select (using Random Number generator) 2 winners for each week.

The book set will include a copy of the “mothership” book, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and the new Color Companion to Walt Disney World.

This week, the question is “what’s your best tip for a newbie visiting the Magic Kingdom” – post your answer in the comments section below and make sure I have your email address in the comment form so I can contact you.  If I can’t contact you, I will have to give your books to someone else.

I’ll start with my favorite tip, one I learned from the UOG – rather than spending the time and money to get a princess hairdo at one of the “boutiques”, the barber shop on Main Street will do a “glitter updo” for less than $10 including tip.  They don’t take reservations, but walk over and see if they can take you.  My daughter got a great hairdo there and got tons of comments from other guests wanting to know where she had her hair done.

So, here’s a summary:

1. Visit my blog every week for another chance to win.

2. Answer the question of the week in the comments section.

3. Two randomly drawn winners every week.

GOOD LUCK!

Here’s a look at the new color companion – at first, I thought I only needed one of the books, but this one was a keeper!

Our first two winners will be drawn on Friday, January 14 at 5pm EST.

Edited to say, one entry per person per week…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.